Houston, TX – A Texas jury deliberated for just 35 minutes before giving the death penalty to the man who fatally shot Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal in the head in 2019.
Harris County Sheriff’s Major Mike Lee said the shooting occurred after Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal made a traffic stop at about 12:23 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2019, in the 14800-block of Willancy Court, KTRK reported.
Maj. Lee said at the time that the deputy’s dashcam video showed Deputy Dhaliwal standing beside a vehicle talking to the driver, who remained inside the car.
The video showed the driver’s door was open at one point during the conversation.
Maj. Lee said there was “no combat, no arguing,” KTRK reported.
He said the dashcam video showed Deputy Dhaliwal shut the driver’s door and the driver remained in the vehicle.
Then the deputy turned to walk back to his police vehicle to check the driver’s license, KTRK reported.
Maj. Lee said that when Deputy Dhaliwal’s back was turned, the driver jumped out of his vehicle “almost immediately running with a gun already out.”
He said the dashcam captured the moment the driver shot Deputy Dhaliwal in the back of the head, and then jumped back into his own vehicle and drove away, leaving the deputy to die, KTRK reported.
The major said a witness who was working in his yard nearby when the deputy was shot saw what happened and ran to try and help the deputy.
First responders performed CPR until a Life Flight helicopter arrived to transport Deputy Dhaliwal to Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center.
Deputy Dhaliwal died at the hospital shortly thereafter.
When deputies arrived on the scene, they reviewed the dashcam video and grabbed a picture of the shooter to share, KTRK reported.
Maj. Lee said the suspect – later identified as 50-year-old Robert Solis – was located just moments later at a nearby gas station, looking nervous, and taken into custody without incident.
He said a woman who was also in the vehicle was taken into custody at the same time, KTRK reported.
It turned out that Solis was wanted for a parole violation when Deputy Dhaliwal stopped his car, CBS News reported.
“The defendant executed a uniformed deputy by shooting him in cold blood in broad daylight. That makes him the worst of the worst, which is why we asked jurors to sentence him to death,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement after the sentencing.
Solis fired three defense attorneys before ultimately representing himself at his murder trial, CBS News reported.
A Harris County jury deliberated for less than an hour on Oct. 26 before giving the death penalty to the man who murdered Deputy Dhaliwal.
Deputy Dhaliwal was a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, KTRK reported.
He received national attention in 2015 when he was the first Texas deputy approved to wear his Sikh turban and beard while in uniform, KHOU reported.
The murdered hero, who had just returned from a volunteer mission in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, was the first member of the Sikh community to join the department.
Deputy Dhaliwal is survived by his wife and three small children.
A Harris County sheriff’s deputy who worked with Deputy Dhaliwal told The Police Tribune that his friend was very proud of being a deputy sheriff and did his job very well.
“He truly was a great person in this community,” the deputy said. “He LOVED this job. Eyes-beaming type loved it.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez described Deputy Dhaliwal as a personal friend and said he was heartbroken, KHOU reported.
“He was a hero, a respected member of the community, and a trailblazer,” Sheriff Gonzalez said.